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a hole in the cold: #FortnightofFlash

The Garlic Corner does not bother with one of the endemic names local shawarma joints use—Shawarma King, Shawarma Prince, Shawarma Palace. We are here for the garlic and the chicken and pita are just vehicles to get it into our mouths. On the chair beside him is Myron’s weekend bag. From here, we walk a few blocks to Rideau, through the mall and to the bridge, where we split up. He stands four lanes away from me, in black leather amid a rainbow of nylon coats. He waves sometimes. Mostly we watch each other. It’s unseasonably pleasant; no gloves, no scarves. The warm wind blows my hair into tangles and his bus comes before mine. It’s over.

When my own bus comes I get a prized empty seat near the front. Two stops later, a man in his fifties gets on and sits with the young woman behind me. He asks her about her coursework, her major, says that he’s “workin’ casual” for Canada Post but did his degree in geography. She has that kind of voice that repels inflection but she keeps going with the conversation, and the two of them prattle through every lurching stop of the bus until I can’t bear it any longer. I head to the back of the bus, find an empty seat, and lean my head against the cool window. Everyone back here is silent, earphones in, head bent down to device, eyes closed. I am with my people. I watch the clock. By now he has his boarding pass. By now he is through security. By now he is sitting in a chair attached to four other chairs and is opening the copy of Cloud Atlas that bewitched me in New Mexico.

I get off the bus in front of the antique store and am almost knocked over by the wind. I walk into it in the dark along the highway. I detect a drop of rain, another, another. No wind this strong should be truly dry; exertion like this calls for sweat. I lean forward with each step but the wind corrects my posture. I try to remember the names of winds I know: mistral, simoom, sirocco, sundowner. The skies open and the rain comes down and I think of all the things we did today that put me where I am right now instead of dry at home fifteen minutes earlier. And I think about what it is to be jean-soaked and coat-soaked in the middle of a warm November instead of shin-deep in snow, and I think like an English major about cloudbursts and baptisms and timing and my empty house. Maybe I can write again, turn this into something. And look! I did.


More about the Fortnight of Flash can be found here. I can’t hack month-long projects right now, but you know I love a good fortnight.